Digitalis lanata (Grecian Foxglove)

Plant Info
Also known as: Woolly Foxglove
Family:Plantaginaceae (Plantain)
Life cycle:biennial
  • Early Detection weed, MDA
  • Early Detection weed, Ramsey County
  • Invasive - ERADICATE!
  • Noxious Weed
  • Prohibited or Restricted species
Habitat:part shade, sun; roadsides, open fields, woodland edges
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 4 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in an elongating spike at the top of the plant, blooming from the bottom of the spike first. Individual flowers are up to about 1 inch long with a bowl-shaped tube about 1/3 inch long, creamy white with brownish veination, a wide opening at the mouth and a creamy white lower lip that curls down. A few stamens are just inside the tube at the top of the mouth. The green sepals behind the flower are densely woolly.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are oval to lanceolate, to 6 inches long, toothless, stalkless, tapering to a finer point higher on the stem and somewhat wider with more rounded tips near the base of the plant. There are typically 3 to 5 parallel veins. Attachment is alternate. First year rosette leaves are densely woolly at the base.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a pod covered with hooks that attach to anything that passes by, allowing it to spread far from the mother plant.


Minnesota's only known infestations of Grecian Foxglove are presently restricted to central and northern Washington county, generally within the St. Croix valley. First discovered in 2000, control measures were taken by state (MNDOT, DNR) & federal (Fish & Wildlife Service) on lands under their jurisdiction. Several private landowners pushed for it to be listed a noxious weed in Washington county and took measures to control in on their properties. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture placed a quarantine on Washington county but dropped it a number of years later when it became apparent no effective quarantine measures would be put in place. Besides its invasiveness in our native plant communities another concern regarding this species is the high levels of digitoxin that can be harmful if eaten by livestock or wildflife or when extensively handled (such as in hand pulling) by humans. According to the Native Plant Society, who was involved in the early control efforts, the long-term control plan was to allow infested sites to succeed to forest communities and shade out the pest. It didn't work. This invasive pest remains basically unchecked today.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken on county road right-of-way and private lands just west of the St. Croix river public access, just north of Stillwater in Washington county.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Joanna - St. Croix River Valley N. of Hwy, 96 - west of Hwy 95
on: 2011-06-16 10:53:48

Grecian Foxglove continues to flourish in an area uphill from the St. Croix Valley, (Pawnee Ave. and 95th St.) on both County and private land. Residents began to work on eradicating GF last year. This year's crop (observed in mid-June 2011)unfortunately appears hale and hearty.

Posted by: Carole
on: 2012-04-04 11:50:29

This plant is also in Afton State Park and Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden.

Posted by: Gary - Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, Minneapolis
on: 2012-11-26 14:40:07

In regards to Grecian Foxglove at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, I believe the following needs to be posted to complete the story: For the last several years the staff and the Legacy Stewards at Eloise Butler have removed all flowering plants prior to flower maturity. It will still take several years for the seedbank to be depleted, but the plant, which arrived in the Garden by happenstance, is under good control.

Gary Bebeau
Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

Posted by: Natalie Morrigan - Belwin Conservancy
on: 2022-06-27 13:28:01

Extensive populations at the Belwin Conservancy visible from the trails

Posted by: Peter Ownbey - Afton, MN
on: 2022-07-01 22:44:18

I occasionally see patches of this plant along roadsides and in sunny ditches. As Natalie said, it?s also prevalent at Belwin Conservancy.

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